Games@Illinois receives support through the University’s Investment for Growth

Judith Pintar
Judith Pintar, Teaching Associate Professor
Lisa Bievenue
Lisa Bievenue, Director of Informatics Programs

A project led by the Game Studies and Design program in Informatics is among the eleven proposals that were selected to receive funding through the University of Illinois Investment for Growth program. Since the program was created in 2018, the University has invested more than $78 million to provide seed funding for projects that generate revenue, advance the University's mission, and address areas of high and emerging student demand.

The interdisciplinary project, "Playful by Design: Expanding the Transformative Potentials of Games@Illinois," will include participation from the iSchool, College of Applied Health Sciences, College of Education, College of Fine and Applied Arts, College of Media, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the Grainger College of Engineering. It will expand on Games@Illinois: Playful Design for Transformative Education, which was initiated with the support of the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities (IPRH) and funded through an earlier Investment for Growth grant.

"We plan to strengthen and expand our interdisciplinary programs—fostering the study of games and immersive simulations, game-relevant technologies, and gameful pedagogies—in addition to teaching game design in new and better ways," explained Judith Pintar, teaching associate professor at the iSchool and director of Games@Illinois. "By building upon existing capacities and strategically investing in our campus partners, we are working towards becoming a leader in the global community of practice surrounding game studies and design."

Plans include the development of a Master of Science in Game Development (MS/GD), which will be offered online and include five concentrations: game design, game programming, game art, game writing, and game production. Non-degree and undergraduate certificates will also be developed in those concentrations.

"Nontraditional students will have the opportunity to earn certificates on their own time frame and then stack them to earn the master's degree," added Lisa Bievenue, director of Informatics Programs, which is the administrative home for Games@Illinois.

The project also will support game-related research and activities for students. A global network will be established for doctoral-level research, building relationships with institutions engaged in training students for the game industry. The Game Studies and Design Studio (Stu/dio) will provide real-world game design research and consulting experiences, both with on-campus and external clients. Finally, building on the popularity of Esports on the U of I campus and nationwide, Games@Illinois will create an organizational home for Esports at Illinois, which will offer research opportunities and generate revenue.